The man that’s pretty much done it all in electronic music, from his humble beginnings in disco to being a creator in the foundations of the global rave scene, Carl Cox has been around every corner. The man has legendary and cult status, an icon working continually to push club culture to the front of everyone’s minds and, flying the flag & using his position for never-ending generations of underground music lovers of our time.
Carl Cox easily could have retired a long time ago, very comfortably back to Hove on the south coast of the UK where he currently resides. However, rather than take the easy life of chill, sunshine and fish ‘n’ chips on the beach, he has embarked on a new project looking to the future but using the machines of the past and present.
After a 10-year music hiatus, Cox returns to create his fifth LP: enter stage right the massive and awe-inspiring Electronic Generations. Cox’s plan for the album was for there to be no plan, just raw, pure energy and feelings, and it does precisely that. Bearing in mind this album is a direct consequence of his going back to exploring the early music technology he had in his garage during that time when the world stopped for a globally touring DJ and producer: lockdown. Cox immediately immersed himself in those old machines of the past and began delivering those now very famous and viral streamed live sessions for the likes of ADE, Resident Advisor, Mysterylands & Movement Detroit.
As the world opened up and we got dancing back, he began incorporating his machines & live performance into his well-known and widely respected giant DJ sets. At first glance, this is a mammoth album with 23 tracks. It is precisely that: 23 tracks of pure energy, blending deep techno, blending synth sounds, and heavy acid with beautiful breakdowns and proper lovely mind-opening and thought-provoking moments.
The album Electronic Generations’ title track is reminiscent of early Detroit techno mixed with heavily arpeggiated sounds; it is the perfect opener and scene setter for this stunning return of the icon. ‘How It Makes You Feel’ is a deep-driving, moody acid banger. ‘Our Time Will Come’ is heavy breaks influenced with light, fluffy synths darting through the track. Cox shows again that he’s very much focused while using his styles of the past and current live performances, cutting these parts out and hardwiring them into the album for a more refined studio sound.
‘Heads Up’ is next up with a nod to the early European rave sound of 1991. ‘Toys Out Of the Pram’ continues this stunning journey of knowledge and experience; it’s deeper, darker and more synth-driven.
Another highlight for the deeper-minded electronic music lover is the aptly named ‘Deep Space X’ which is suitability named as it sounds like it’s a track transmitted from a satellite from the other side of the universe using wobbly bass lines and weird, super cool space sounds. ‘Line Lock’ is an acid-pounding, classic Carl Cox sound, raw energy big driving festival winner.
This album reminds me of the attitude that the early rave scene had and is a throwback to the punk generation. It is sticking two fingers up in every track; it is not wanting to be loved; it is raw energy, raw experimentation; it is making machines work hard and pushing himself and them to their limits.
At the end of the album, there is a collaboration with another icon and resident of sleepy south coast Hove: Fatboy Slim and the vocals of Dan Diamond. This track talks about life, appreciating it and the world today as it is. It beautifully blends pianos and is a straight-up high-energy banger, precisely what we would expect from such a collaboration.
In addition, men of the moment LF System delivers an excellent, lower-paced remix using pianos and beautiful strings, which sit perfectly with provoking lyrics. There’s another remix by Riton, which takes the original mix and flips it into another stripped-back acid-influenced sound.
The album closes on a massive high note in collaboration with Nicole Moudaber. ‘How It Makes You Feel’ is a moody, fast-paced techno driver that wallops its way with fantastic tribal and acid elements; it’s a beautiful way to end an impressive comeback. Electronic Generations is a call to everyone quite happy as a DJ just to hit play, not think about programming or the journey of the event. It is a shake-up and wake-up call from a DJ who has seen it, done it, created the sound, multiple t-shirts, worn them, marketed them, and sold them many times over many generations.
The big news is King Carl isn’t planning on leaving any time soon and has pushed himself and recreated his sound. In one album, he manages to show a deep dive masterclass into live performance intertwined with machines personified.